The proposed $506-million budget from Columbia city manager De’Carlon Seewood was introduced at last (Monday) night’s city council meeting. August 15 will be your first opportunity to testify about the budget.
Seewood’s proposal includes a four percent across-the-board pay raise for city employees, along with a one percent increase for top performers.
“People who are average employees, they may get .75 (percent in a performance raise) and the people who are on the lower end will get .25. But the opportunity is for everyone to get a little piece of something based on their performance,” Seewood says.
Mr. Seewood tells 939 the Eagle that the pay raises are critical for recruitment and retention, emphasizing that he wants to make the city of Columbia “the employer of choice” here. He says the city has about 1,500 employees, which includes about 200 vacancies.
The city manager’s proposed budget also includes funding for construction of a new fire station near Scott Boulevard in southwest Columbia, along with 12 new firefighters to staff that station.
“We understand with us that’s one of the priorities of our citizens. And actually if you look at our budget, I think about 75 percent of the general fund is public safety,” says Seewood.
Mr. Seewood’s proposed budget also increases staffing for Columbia Police, including money for three airport safety officers, a new police sergeant and a crime scene investigator.
Columbia’s city council has the ultimate say on the proposed budget, which must be approved by the end of September, before the start of the new fiscal year.